Gun, old dogs and footballs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 29, 2004

There is no substitute for an education. There is no value than can be placed on the lessons learned in a classroom.

However, there are other lessons that can't be taught in school.

For this, I believe there are three things every young man needs growing up.

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A .22 rifle, a football and a dog.

All three can teach you a lot if you give them half a chance.

It may seem like a strange combination, but give any young man these three things and he will grow up just fine.

The rifle teaches responsibility. When a boy is old enough to get a .22 rifle and go after his first squirrel he is one step closer to becoming a man.

When he gets the rifle he also knows it is a privilege. The rifle can go away as quickly as it came and any horse play means a step back.

It's a step back from the trust that had been gained to allow the person to take that first step into adulthood.

Owning a rifle is no small accomplishment for a young man. Under heavy supervision he can learn a lot spending an afternoon shooting cans with dad.

A football may seem like an odd choice, but it is a teacher as well.

Football is a sport where everyone makes a difference.

It takes everyone working together for a common goal.

A game of backyard football can do wonders for a young man's concept of teamwork.

It can also help to spark his competitive nature and need to be the best.

A good performance in a backyard ballgame means a lot more to elementary school aged children than most people think.

It's something to brag to mom and dad about. It's a way to build confidence.

It's even a way to connect with dad. A lot of problems can get ironed out throwing the ball around in the back yard.

That odd shaped ball can teach a lot of lessons if it gets a chance.

One of the most important things a boy can own is a dog.

His dog is always there when things aren't going as well as they should.

A dog never cares when he makes a mistake. His reaction will always be the same.

He'll always greet you with a lick on the face and an eagerness to play and forget about whatever may be bothering you.

A dog also prepares young men for their future role as a caretaker.

At some point in most every mans life he is going to play the role of provider.

It's not a role that a person can just jump right into.

Caring for a dog teaches him the urgency of caring for a living thing.

When a young man has a dog he knows he is going to have to take care of it whether it is raining, snowing, below freezing or over 100 degrees.

A lot of things will have to be put aside because a living thing is depending on him.

Every family man will face some stormy days in his life.

The more practice he can get in dealing with difficult situations the better…no matter how small a scale it may be.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned through the little things in life.

These are three that had a major impact on mine.

Everyone has their own way of picking up the skills they will need in adulthood.

For me a .22 rifle, a football and a few old dogs have made all the difference.

Rick Couch may be reached at

383-9302, ext. 132 or

via email at rick.